No American Indian family remains untouched by government policies of forced family separation. Prior to the Adoption Era (1940-1978) the progressive approach to America’s “Indian problem” was to “Kill the Indian and save the man” by shipping Native youth and toddlers to an estimated 500 federally-funded conversion schools and religious institutions (Boarding School Era: 1879-1978). This collective era of removal effectively displaced 25-35% of Native American youth from tribal communities nationwide by the late 1960s.
Listen to the story of a three-year-old girl and the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court case Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl is a legal battle that has entangled a biological father, a heart-broken couple, and the tragic history of Native American children taken from their families.
Children Left Behind:
The Dark Legacy of Indian Mission Boarding Schools
Respected journalist and boarding school survivor, Tim Giago, weaves memoir, commentary, reflection and poetry together to boldly illustrate his often horrific experiences as a child at the Indian Mission Boarding School. The experience of one Indian Child becomes a metaphor for the experience on many Indian children who were ripped from their Tribal roots and torn form their families. They were not allowed to speak their own language or follow their traditional customs. As a result, the Mission School experience for most young Indians resulted in isolation, confusion and intense psychological pain. This has contributed to problems including alcoholism, drug abuse, family violence and general alienation in an entire generation.
Kinship By Design:
A History of Adoption in the Modern United States
What constitutes a family? Tracing the dramatic evolution of Americans’ answer to this question over the past century, Kinship by Design provides the fullest account to date of modern adoption’s history. Beginning in the early 1900s, when children were still transferred between households by a variety of unregulated private arrangements, Ellen Herman details efforts by the U.S. Children’s Bureau and the Child Welfare League of America to establish adoption standards in law and practice. She goes on to trace Americans’ shifting ideas about matching children with physically or intellectually similar parents, revealing how research in developmental science and technology shaped adoption as it navigated the nature-nurture debate. Concluding with an insightful analysis of the revolution that ushered in special needs, transracial, and international adoptions, Kinship by Design ultimately situates the practice as both a different way to make a family and a universal story about love, loss, identity, and belonging.
Lost Bird of Wounded Knee:
Spirit of the Lakota
In December 1890, the U.S. Seventh Calvary massacred a band of Lakota at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. After a four day blizzard, an infant was found alive under the frozen body of her dead mother. Brigadier General Leonard W. Colby kidnapped and then adopted the baby girl named Lost Bird (1890-1920) as a “living curio” and exploited her in order to attract tribes as clients of his law practice. After the General’s wife divorced him, she raised Lost Bird as a white girl. Lost Bird ran away to join Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and appeared in silent films and vaudeville. During her brief life, she endured sexual abuse, violence, prostitution and the rejection of her own tribe before dying at the age of 29. This remarkable biography examines the life of the woman who became a symbol of the warring cultures that entrapped her, and a heartbreaking microcosm of all those Native American children who lost their heritage through adoption, social injustice, and war. Flood, Renee Sampson. Da Capo Press. 1998.
A Generation Removed:
The Fostering and Adoption of Indigenous Children in the Postwar World
In a powerful blend of history and family stories, award-winning historian Margaret D. Jacobs examines how government authorities in the post–World War II era removed thousands of American Indian children from their families and placed them in non-Indian foster or adoptive families. By the late 1960s an estimated 25 to 35 percent of Indian children had been separated from their families.
Unsettling the Settler Within:
Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada
n 2008, Canada established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to mend the deep rifts between Aboriginal peoples and the settler society that created Canada’s notorious residential school system. In Unsettling the Settler Within author Paulette Regan argues that non-Aboriginal Canadians must undergo their own process of decolonization in order to truly participate in the transformative possibilities of reconciliation. Settlers must relinquish the persistent myth of themselves as peacemakers and acknowledge the destructive legacy of a society that has stubbornly ignored and devalued Indigenous experience. A compassionate call to action, this powerful book offers a new and hopeful path toward healing the wounds of the past.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West
Dee Brown's eloquent, fully documented account of the systematic destruction of the American Indian during the second half of the nineteenth century. Using council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions, Brown allows the great chiefs and warriors of the Dakota, Ute, Sioux, Cheyenne, and other tribes to tell us in their own words of the battles, massacres, and broken treaties that finally left them demoralized and defeated. A unique and disturbing narrative told with force and clarity, that changes forever our vision of how the West was really won.
Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects
A highly anticipated follow up to the history-making anthologies Two Worlds and Called Home, Stolen Generations offers more narratives on the history of land-taking and child theft/adoption projects in the name of Manifest Destiny in North America. A collection of adoptees’ firsthand accounts and the historical background of the Indian Adoption Projects and 60s Scoop, along with pertinent news, quotes and bibliography, this stunning new anthology has been edited by award winning journalist, adoptee-author Trace L Hentz.
Writing On Transracial Adoption
Featuring Sandy White Hawk as one of thirty personal essays, researched based studies, poems and accompanying art work. Transracial adoptees challenge the “expert” knowledge that excludes many adoptee voices. Conceived by the editors as “corrective action”, the collection offers eye-opening perspectives on the power of differences between white people and people of color, the rich and the poor, the more or less empowered in adoption circles and the sense of loss and limbo that individual adoptees may feel while living in the borderlands of racial, national and cultural identities. Tranka, Jane; Oparah, Julia; and Shin, Sun Yung, South End Press, 2006.
Neither Wolf Nor Dog:
On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder
In this 1996 Minnesota Book Award winner, Kent Nerburn draws the reader deep into the world of an Indian elder known only as Dan. It's a world of Indian towns, white roadside cafes, and abandoned roads that swirl with the memories of the Ghost Dance and Sitting Bull. Readers meet vivid characters like Jumbo, a 400-pound mechanic, and Annie, an 80-year-old Lakota woman living in a log cabin. Threading through the book is the story of two men struggling to find a common voice. Neither Wolf nor Dog takes readers to the heart of the Native American experience. As the story unfolds, Dan speaks eloquently on the difference between land and property, the power of silence, and the selling of sacred ceremonies.
A wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seen. It’s “masterful . . . white-hot . . . devastating” (The Washington Post) at the same time as it is fierce, funny, suspenseful, thoroughly modern, and impossible to put down. Here is a voice we have never heard—a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with urgency and force. Tommy Orange has written a stunning novel that grapples with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and profound spirituality, and with a plague of addiction, abuse, and suicide. This is the book that everyone is talking about right now, and it’s destined to be a classic.
Future Home of the Living God
Louise Erdrich, the New York Times bestselling, National Book Award-winning author of LaRose and The Round House, paints a startling portrait of a young woman fighting for her life and her unborn child against oppressive forces that manifest in the wake of a cataclysmic event. A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time.
Healing the Soul Wound:
Counseling with American Indians and other Native Peoples
A noted psychologist draws on his own clinical experiences to provide guidance to counselors working with Native Americans. Translating theory into day-to-day practice. Duran presents case materials that illustrate effective intervention strategies for prevalent problems including: Substance abuse, intergenerational trauma and internalized oppression. Duran, Eduardo. Teachers Press. 2006
Pigs in Heaven
Picking up where her modern classic The Bean Trees left off, Barbara Kingsolver’s bestselling Pigs in Heaven continues the tale of Turtle and Taylor Greer, a Native American girl and her adoptive mother who have settled in Tucson, Arizona, as they both try to overcome their difficult pasts. Depicting the clash between fierce family love and tribal law, poverty and means, abandonment and belonging, Pigs in Heaven is a morally wrenching, gently humorous work of fiction that speaks equally to the head and the heart.
Lincoln and the Indians:
Civil War Policy and Politics
"Lincoln and the Indians has stood the test of time and offers this generation of readers a valuable interpretation of the U.S. government's Indian policies—and sometimes the lack thereof—during the Civil War era. Providing a critical perspective on Lincoln's role, [David] Nichols sets forth an especially incisive analysis of the trial of participants in the Dakota War of 1862 in Minnesota and Lincoln's role in sparing the lives of most of those who were convicted." — James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom
The Gospel and Native American Cultural Genocide
George E. Tinker's fascinating probe into U.S. mission history spotlights four cases: Junipero Serra, the Franciscan whose mission to California natives has made him a candidate for sainthood; John Eliot, the renowned Puritan missionary to Massachusetts Indians; Pierre-Jean De Smet, the Jesuit missioner to the Indians of the Midwest; and Henry Benjamin Whipple, who engineered the U.S. government's theft of the Black Hills from the Sioux.
While the Locust Slept:
Through transcendent prose, an Ojibwe man chronicles his survival of abuse and bigotry at a state orphanage in the 1930s and the brutal farm indenture that followed. Razor, Peter. Minnesota Historical Society Press. 2002
Whose land are you on? Start with a visit to native-land.ca. Native Land is both a website and an app that seeks to map Indigenous languages, treaties, and territories across Turtle Island.